Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Manitou by Graham Masterton

(pb; 1975, 1976: first book in The Manitou series)

From the back cover:

"For Karen Tandy the terror is over. Her wracked and spent body lies on the abandoned floor of a Manhattan hospital. A strange sac-like growth hangs limply from her back, a discarded cocoon.

"The lights are out in this part of Sisters of Jerusalem. The area is blanketed by a dense, icy fog. Somewhere within this murky black shroud lurks a terrible Indian spirit, born from the shriveled remains of innocent youth, returned to avenge the lost souls of his red brethren.

"For Dr. Hughes, Harry Erskine, and Singing Rock, the terror has just begun. These disparate souls, one a healer, one a trickster, and the third a shaman, will need all their wit and courage to combat four centuries of Indian sorcery. The life of Karen Tandy has not sated the Manitou's bloodthirst for revenge: he will make the streets of New York run red.

"Can modern technology defeat the black forces of ancient Indian magic?"


Tightly-plotted, unequivocal, recreative horror novel. The characters are at once familiar and idiosyncratic (especially Harry Erskine); the story moves fast, at a no-frills clip, leavened with casual, character-true facetiae.

The open-ended finish reads like real-life, given the characters involved (e.g., Misquamacus, the titular manitou, who's really powerful, magically-speaking).

Great b-movie novel -- worth your time, this.

Followed by The Djinn.


The Manitou was released stateside as a film on January 24, 1979. Tony Curtis played Harry Erskine. Michael Ansara played John Singing Rock. Susan Strasberg played Karen Tandy. Stella Stevens played Amelia Crusoe. Jon Cedar played Dr. Jack Hughes. Ann Sothern played Mrs. Karmann. Burgess Meredith played Dr. Snow.

The film's screenplay was co-authored by Manitou-director William Girdler, Jon Cedar (who played Dr. Jack Hughes), and Thomas Pope.

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